By Ericka Wiebe, Cincom Business Analyst
There are several ways to be average in sales; there’s only one way to be a star. Authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson show us how in The Challenger Sale – Taking Control of the Customer Conversation.
The authors propose that the best sales people sell in any economy (yes, even this one) because they have mastered the complex sale. Dixon and Adamson engage the reader by presenting familiar scenarios and then dropping current sales strategy on its head. Get out your company phone list and start checking people off (be sure to include yourself) as the authors present the five sales profiles:
Hard Worker: nose to the grindstone, self-motivated, makes the most number of calls, seeks feedback.
Relationship Builder: generous with time, meets customers’ needs.
Lone Wolf: deeply self-confident, follows instinct instead of rules, cowboys, no process compliance, no trip reports, no CRM entries.
Reactive Problem Solver: customer service rep in sales rep clothing, keeps customers happy at the expense of generating new business.
Challenger: brings fresh insight, is a debater, shares views even when controversial, pushes own managers to think about complex issues from a different perspective.
“Over half of customer loyalty is a result not of what you sell, but how you sell.” – The Challenger Sale
Customers don’t always see much difference between us and our competitors but they do see significant differences in the sales experience, which is what Challengers do best because they know the value drivers and economic drivers of individual customers, provide new perspectives, and are comfortable discussing money.
Challengers confidently guide the sales conversations.
“The battle for customer loyalty is won or lost long before a thing ever gets sold. And the best reps win that battle not by “discovering” what customers already know they need, but by teaching them a new way of thinking. Build a pitch that leads to your solution, not with it”
Don’t simply enforce what customers already know – sure, they’ll like you, but that doesn’t mean they’ll buy from you.
“Helping them think differently about their company helps them think differently about your company. It’s the new physics of sales”
“Old model: customer-generated intelligence is valuable to the supplier. New model: supplier-generated insight is valuable to the customer.” Challenger reps don’t just focus on what they’re selling, but on what the person they’re speaking to is trying to accomplish. But unlike Relationship Builders who won’t push hard on next steps, Challengers are there to make a sale, not just have a good meeting. So, Challengers develop constructive tension during the entire sales process (giving the customer new things to think about) and don’t just do what is convenient for the customer.
Challenger companies earn customer loyalty because they teach them something of value, and don’t just sell something they need.
They outperform their competitors on those things that their Challenger reps have taught customers are important.